Downsizing in the Middle East

Section B (30 marks)

Read the case study and answer all the questions. Each question carries 10 marks.

As an overseas student, Zaid Kilani chose to research downsizing in his home country in the Middle East. He was encouraged by his tutor to research downsizing in a non-Western context. Zaid decided to investigate how employees perceive the downsizing process. To delimit his research project, he decided to focus on one downsizing method that is used in downsizing the civil service in his home country. Further, he focused on one aspect of employees’ perception, which was fairness of the downsizing process. Zaid undertook his research from a positivistic philosophical stance. He conducted a thorough review of the literature, stated his research aims, and formed hypotheses that could be tested statistically. The required data were to be collected via self-administered postal questionnaire, which he wished to send to a sample of the total population of the of 2800 ex-civil servants.

A list of these ex-civil servants that included their names, ex-employers, and other details were provided by the Civil Service Bureau in his home country. Unfortunately, no contact details were available. One possible way to overcome this obstacle could have been to contact their previous employers and ask them for the contact details. However, this was deemed unethical as he would be requesting personal details. The alternative, which Zaid adopted, was to search for the ex-employees’ names in the general telephone book, contact them by telephone, ask for their informed consent to participate, and, if they accepted, ask for their convenient postal address. Zaid realised that a further obstacle was that as an unknown male, even though he was a researcher, it would not be tolerable for him to contact female respondents and ask for such information. He, therefore, assigned a female assistant to contact female respondents. To facilitate the process of searching for telephone numbers, Zaid purchased an electronic copy of the general telephone book, enabling him to search using a computer.

As Arabic is the first language in Zaid’s home country, it was prudent to translate the questionnaire into Arabic to minimise the possibility of non-response due to language difficulties. To fulfil this object, he decided to follow Usunier’s (1998) suggestion and used parallel translation. This involved having several independent translations from English to Arabic, comparing the translated versions, and subsequently arriving at a final version in Arabic. As Zaid is an Arabic native, he felt this would help to ensure that the specific meanings included in his questionnaire were fully rendered in the Arabic version.

To translate the questionnaire by using the parallel-translation technique, two Arabic native translators were appointed. One of the translators had an MBA degree while the other had a Bachelor degree in business administration. Each of them had experience in translation from English to Arabic and back while working with his home country’s civil service. Zaid provided each of the translators with a copy of the English version of the questionnaire and its covering letter to translate independently into Arabic. Subsequently, the translators and Zaid had a meeting to discuss the translated versions question by question. The Arabic version was prepared after minor differences between the two translated questionnaires were found and then reconciled. The differences pertained to the expressions ‘job’ and ‘civil servant’. The word ‘job’ has several equivalents, so the translators and the author agreed on the most appropriate word. In addition, the expression ‘civil servant’ may imply inferiority in Arabic. For this reason, the term ‘civil employee’ was used. For language-gender considerations, two versions of the covering letters were prepared: one to address female respondents and the other to address male respondents. Afterwards, the Arabic version of the questionnaire and its covering letter were piloted.

(Source: Saunders. M, Lewis, P. Thornhill, A. (2009) ” Research Methods for Business Student,” Fifth Edition, Prentice Hall, Pearson Education, UK, pp.438- 439.)

  1. Determine the sampling technique and method that Kilani had applied for his research, giving examples to support your answer.
  2. Evaluate the key issues in collecting data using this technique of sampling.
  3. Analyse the detailed sampling technique and method you would have used, if you were doing this same research for the civil service employees of Maldives.

SAMPLING TECHNIQUES IN SOCIAL RESEARCH

Determine the sampling technique and method that Kilani had applied for his research, giving examples to support your answer.

To arrive at the sample used in the survey, Kilani applied the cluster sampling technique. This sampling technique is a probability one in which the entire sampling frame is organised into groups commonly known as clusters. Random samples are drawn from the clusters and summed up to form the final sample used in the research process (Taherdoost, 2016). This sampling technique is commonly utilized where the researcher desires a representation of specific groups of respondents or elements in the sample. For example, when a researcher requires a sample with male and female respondents, he or she may consider using this technique. This is because the simple random sampling technique can leave one cluster completely out of the sample selected since it gives each element in the sampling frame an equal opportunity of being chosen regardless of factors desired in cluster sampling.

The case study expresses strong stress on sex in the sampling process, which is brought out well in the respondent consenting stage and translation of the data collection questionnaires from English to Arabic. The sampling frame that Kilani used was the ex-civil servants in the Middle East. The sampling frame was then divided into two clusters: male ex-civil servants and female ex-civil servants. This sampling technique will ultimately present responses representing opinions and perceptions of the subject of the research project from both sexes equally or in the proportion desired by the researcher.

Evaluate the key issues in collecting data using this technique of sampling.

While applying the cluster sampling technique, there are certain issues that a researcher needs to put into consideration for a successful process. The first issue is the stages used to do the sampling process, while the second one is that the researcher should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this technique. Understanding the above key issues is important in guiding the researcher to determine if he or she requires changing the technique or needs to continue with it based on their rationale and desired outcome. Secondly, these issues help the researcher prepare for any limitation or obstacle associated with the sampling technique.

Three stages are used in applying the cluster sampling technique (Sedgwick, 2014). These stages include;

  • Grouping clusters as sample frames. For example, in the case study provided, this would form a sampling frame for the female ex-civil servants and another for their male counterparts.
  • Assigning each cluster with a unique identifier. For instance, in the case study, their clusters would be identified as females and males, respectively.
  • Drawing a sample from each cluster using a probability sampling method. In the case study, this would be drawing the samples from each cluster.

The advantages of the cluster sampling technique include; being time and cost-efficient probability sampling design for diverse sample frames; it is ideal for a practical point of view. Lastly, larger sample sizes can be used because of the increased perspective of the specific targeted sampling groups desired.

The disadvantages of this technique are; the researcher has to be aware of the group-level information, it has a higher sampling error compared to other techniques, and it may not necessarily show diversity in the sampling frame (Alatawi, 2017).

Analyze the detailed sampling technique and the method you would have used if you were doing this same research for the civil service employees of Maldives.

If I were doing the same research for the civil service employees of Maldives, I would apply the probability sampling method and further use a stratified random sampling technique (Pirzadeh, Shanian, Hamou-Lhadj, Alawneh, & Shafiee, 2011). This sampling technique involves dividing the population being studied into strata. A random sample is drawn from the strata to form the total sample size. In doing this same research for civil servants of Maldives, I would be interested in understanding their perception of downsizing processes based on their job cadres and departments.  This data would be more informative than just generalizing the responses based on the sex of the respondents.

In the sampling process, I would divide the civil servants into subgroups based on their work departments, ranging from administrative, finance, marketing, and operations. I would further subdivide these strata into smaller subgroups of job cadres ranging from the most senior employees to the subordinate employees. I would then randomly collect samples from each stratum and then sum the samples collected to form the total sample size. The probability sampling method will ensure that each employee has an equal chance of being selected. In contrast, the stratified sampling technique will ensure that the sample selected has a balanced representation of each department and job cadre.

References

Alatawi, M. A. (2017). OVERCOMING THE LIMITATION OF CLUSTER SAMPLES WITH A SIMPLIFIED SAMPLING METHOD. International Journal of Research in Management & Social Science Volume 5, Issue 3 (II), 7-11.

Pirzadeh, H., Shanian, S., Hamou-Lhadj, A., Alawneh, L., & Shafiee, A. (2011). The Concept of Stratified Sampling of Execution Traces. 1Software Behaviour Analysis Research Lab (pp. 1-35). Montreal, QC, Canada: Concordia University.

Sedgwick, P. (2014). Cluster sampling. BMJ 2014;348:g1215 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g1215, 1-2.

Taherdoost, H. (2016). Sampling Methods in Research Methodology; How to Choose a Sampling Technique for Research. International Journal of Academic Research in Management (IJARM) Vol. 5, No. 2, 18-27.